J Neuroinflammation 2020 Jan 27;17(1):36. Epub 2020 Jan 27.
Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
Background: Out of the myriad of complications associated with septic shock, septic-associated encephalopathy (SAE) carries a significant risk of morbidity and mortality. Blood-brain-barrier (BBB) impairment, which subsequently leads to increased vascular permeability, has been associated with neuronal injury in sepsis. Thus, preventing BBB damage is an attractive therapeutic target. Mitochondrial dysfunction is an important contributor of sepsis-induced multi-organ system failure. More recently, mitochondrial dysfunction in endothelial cells has been implicated in mediating BBB failure in stroke, multiple sclerosis and in other neuroinflammatory disorders. Here, we focused on Drp1-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction in endothelial cells as a potential target to prevent BBB failure in sepsis.
Methods: We used lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce inflammation and BBB disruption in a cell culture as well as in murine model of sepsis. BBB disruption was assessed by measuring levels of key tight-junction proteins. Brain cytokines levels, oxidative stress markers, and activity of mitochondrial complexes were measured using biochemical assays. Astrocyte and microglial activation were measured using immunoblotting and qPCR. Transwell cultures of brain microvascular endothelial cells co-cultured with astrocytes were used to assess the effect of LPS on expression of tight-junction proteins, mitochondrial function, and permeability to fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) dextran. Finally, primary neuronal cultures exposed to LPS were assessed for mitochondrial dysfunction.
Results: LPS induced a strong brain inflammatory response and oxidative stress in mice which was associated with increased Drp1 activation and mitochondrial localization. Particularly, Drp1-(Fission 1) Fis1-mediated oxidative stress also led to an increase in expression of vascular permeability regulators in the septic mice. Similarly, mitochondrial defects mediated via Drp1-Fis1 interaction in primary microvascular endothelial cells were associated with increased BBB permeability and loss of tight-junctions after acute LPS injury. P110, an inhibitor of Drp1-Fis1 interaction, abrogated these defects, thus indicating a critical role for this interaction in mediating sepsis-induced brain dysfunction. Finally, LPS mediated a direct toxic effect on primary cortical neurons, which was abolished by P110 treatment.
Conclusions: LPS-induced impairment of BBB appears to be dependent on Drp1-Fis1-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction. Inhibition of mitochondrial dysfunction with P110 may have potential therapeutic significance in septic encephalopathy.